STOCKTON (CBS13) — In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a San Joaquin County man is going to prison because of a deadly attack by his dog.
Prosecutors say the deadly attack by the man’s pit bull was predictable, and even inevitable. They say the dog had a violent history, but the owner did nothing.
The hurt was overwhelming for family on that day nearly two years ago in Stockton when a pit bull named Russia mauled and killed Claudia Gallardo without provocation.
Brian Hrenko, the dog’s owner could only offer a tearful apology.
Now, he’s preparing for sentencing in a first-of-its-kind case in San Joaquin County. Hrenko was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the gruesome mauling in his front yard.
“He wanted a very vicious guard dog, and that’s what he got,” said deputy district attorney Steve Maier.
He says Hrenko encouraged his dog’s dangerous behavior. The prosecutor says the conviction sends a message to pit bull owners who raise their dogs to be aggressive.
“The DA’s position is that we will protect our citizens by prosecuting people who don’t take adequate safeguards,” Maier said.
Coincidentally as Hrenko’s trial drew to a close in mid-March, two pit bulls got loose and terrorized downtown Stockton biting two men and killing a cat. An officer eventually opened fire on one of the dogs.
In that case, the owner not only hasn’t been arrested, but the dogs have been returned to the owner.
Phillip Zimmerman with Stockton Animal Services explains that by law, the injuries in that case weren’t dangerous enough for the pit bulls to be deemed vicious.
“We are required to release the animals back to them, upon the stipulation they’ll contain the dog,” he said.
Maier hopes the Hrenko case could lead to broad changes, hoping it educates the community on the consequences of raising an animal to be vicious.
He also hopes laws or rules will toughen to make it more difficult to get a dog likely to be aggressive, and he wants harsher penalties on owners whose dogs go on deadly attacks.
Hrenko will serve a maximum of four years and eight months behind bars.
“It doesn’t seem like it does justice to Claudia Gallardo and her family,” Maier said.